Peter Green's Memoir

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Title

Peter Green's Memoir

Description

A memoir that answers 20 questions about his RAF experiences.

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Language

Format

Three typewritten sheets

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IBCC Digital Archive

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

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Transcription

(1) I suppose basically being in my late teens like so many others at that time, were on a high, by the excitement and happenings around us. I also think; as past times have shewn that youth is automatically drawn to flag waving and a uniform.
I think the quality of training at times left much to be desired, in my case our AGS. course was suppose [sic] to be 12 weeks but was terminated at 8 weeks, probably owing to shortages. Having to learn to strip and assemble a Browning 303. blindfolded, wasn’t really applicable in a turret on operations
Footdrill [sic] and marching I suppose was necessary in the transition from civvy street to the mould of service life, for it was useful, if on active service you all went in the same direction if ask to, without holding a committee meeting about it.
(2) Service police: My only contact with them happened at Kings cross [sic] Stn. having just passed out as an A/G and wearing my brevet and Sgt. stripes on my tunic but not on my greatcoat. So the call across the station in loud terms “Here you airman” but now fully convinced of my new rank, I presumed he was calling someone else, he then approached me face to face and ask if I was deaf and as I then explained to him the reason I took no notice and on shewing my tunic his remarks were much softer toned as he said “Sorry Sarge and the best of luck”. Incidentally he was a Corporal.
Politicians: Well my views in wartime or peacetime, don’t alter, as m old dad use to say “There was only one honest politician and the crucified him”.
(3) Saluting Officers: A necessity of service life, more a robot action with not much thought behind it, though I do remember an Army officer in Naples nearly having a heart attack because the entire crew didn’t salute and I suppose being RAF made it worse, but we all listen and still went of [sic] without the required salute, which by now he had forgot.
(4) Met. Well I suppose only being armed with a length of seaweed and a balloon they didn’t do to [sic] bad. When you consider modern technology, not a great advance in 40 years.
Padre. Well the only time I can remember one on the squadron was when we were operating within a distance of 100 miles of the frontline, we were entitled to a drop of rum on the return of an operation. The Padre was at de-briefing but I think there was more rum in him than the stone jar.
(5) With the losses of men on operations becoming the normal way of life as your tour of duty progressed a lost [sic] of a close friend was somewhat softened and solace sought in the mess. I think the utmost thought in my mind was becoming a causality, rather than the thought of P.O.W.
(6) Well a whole chapter could be written on this. Dessert tents in Italian rain, walking on a carpet of locust for three days and you’d be surprised where you found them. My first bed was the ground, then an upturned dinghy then finally a real bed bequeathed by a lost comrade. All in all, not quite like Bomber Command at home, but then we weren’t dogged with too much ‘Bullshit’ so I suppose it had its [sic] compensations.
(7) For me confidence in the B24 became stronger everytime [sic] we returned and by the time we finnished [sic] it was the greatest thing since ‘sliced bread’ Confidence in maintenance, had to be in our minds or maybe we would’nt [sic] have flown and when you consider the conditions under which they worked I think in some cases they worked wonders, without the so called glory dished out by the media of the day.
Confidence in our crew goes without saying, we all got on very well together and I can’t remember any disagreement or upset and as far as we were all concerned Johnny Rush our pilot was 100% in charge and in our esteem.
[page break]
(8) Discipline on the Squadron appeared to be there obviously but not seen to be overdone. Though I do remember while W/C Smythe was away at one period, we had a replacement (temp) who wanted all the tents lined up and aircrew generally smartened up, I don’t think he succeeded or he wasn’t there long enough.
(9) I think definitely loyalty to each other, especially those close. To the RAF; when other services were present. I’am [sic] afraid as to the history of the Squadron though short, nobody in command ever told us, or maybe because I never ask.
(10) I think that we were more concerned about our own ‘war’ to over worry about the general war picture, though I must admit not seeing any bulletins giving that picture.
(11) Effects of stress, I think every member of aircrew was effected [sic] in someway and some more than others. As a tour of operations progressed you seemed to notice how much older your comrades looked and act, it seemed a speeded up effect of youthfulness to maturity over a few months. I think the critical period was those last few Ops., when I think more prays were being offered up than usual.
I personally found that on a run of 4 or 5 nights of ops. keeping awake could be a battle, which couldn’t be inducive to A.1. performance.
(13) Mistakes, muddles and frustrations have only come apparent inrecent [sic] years on reading a history of same.
(14) No first hand information on this one.
(15) See next sheet.
(16) I think not particularly the R.A.F. but the war in general, speeded up the prcess [sic] of youth to maturity very fast. I found myself having no trouble in adapting to civvy life as I had a new challenge ‘a wife’. and back to a profession I had started, though this changed to other things later. The question of health 10years [sic] on I had a nervious [sic] breakdown lasting some months though my life was quite stable and settled. The ‘trick cyclist’ put it down to the war for the want of a better answer.
(17) My interest continued in aircraft, up to the present day. If I had my time over again, I would have stayed in the R.A.F. for that reason.
(18) I think back in pride of some of those comrades I knew and regret their loss with sadness. Disbelief in later years that I got away in one piece unlike so many others.
(19) I find it easy to talk of those days.
Does anyone care, obviously those who were involved and the grandchildren who listen and watch goggle eyes, as grandad elaborates on his exploits, convincing them that he won the war... other than that I don’t think people in general care, for to most it now recedes back to the first world war or even the Crimea.
(20) With the benefit of hindsight, yes I would do it again, knowing my outcome but lets hope it won’t become necessary for anyone to be involved on that scale again.
[page break]
[underlined] Incidents. [/underlined]
(1) During an exercise at O.T.U. I was in the front turret of a ‘Wimpy’ with no guns. At about 15,oooft. [sic] we began to ice up, so we climbed up through the cloud. During this the front of my suit was covered with quite an amount of snow, then I felt that I was unable to breath, after frantically trying to find the reason I managed to inform the pilot on the intercom before passing out. Next thing I remember was being carried past the W/Op. who was in KD’s sitting over the heater. Having been sat down on the canvas bed I was given the emergency oxygen bottle and became quite happy with the situation.
The pilot then brought back the rear gunner owing to the cold and he was given a bottle. I suddenly looked down and saw that the gauge shewed empty, as I started to pass out I attempted to take the other gunners bottle away from him unsuccessfully, I went to get another spare bottle from the rack and found they all shewed empty. On checking when we got back, we were inform [sic] that all the emergency bottles had not been refill [sic] on the aircraft. So it shews what the power of imagination can do for you.
(2) I related to you the tale of the trip to Warsaw, it goes like this:-
On the day of the trip I elected to go to Foggia for the luandry [sic] about 10am. [sic] though officially you were not allowed to leave the squadron before 12 noon. On returning with said laundry I found the tented area more like the ‘Marie Celeste’, on enquiring from a ground crew member he said they had all left for dispersal to fly down to Brindisi, so I quickly got a lift out the airfield and to our aircraft. There was our crew and C.O.
On asking where the hell did I think I’d been and not happy with my explaination, [sic] he gave me a choice ‘go as I was or face a court martial’. A spare gunner who was to have gone in my place gave me his helmet and shute.
I can honestly say I was the only aircrew that night flying KD. short sleeved shirt, short trousers, socks and sandels [sic]. Thank God for the Mid-Upper position and the warmth. If I’d had to bale out, I wonder what the enemy might have thought, maybe I’d flown up from Africa.
(3) When I got posted home after leave I was sent up to a place called Kirkbride in Cumberland of all things as an Airfield controller on and [sic] A.T.A. Station and M.U. unit. During the 8 months I was there I learnt to drive on the chequer van, help the Fire tender crew with their allotment. During my period there I encountered three aircraft landing and one of those, after feeling proud of my attempt as Airfield Controller, his undercart collapsed at the end of the runway.
(4) While getting away with murder at the above. I got a posting to, would you believe a ‘Battle Course’ somewhere outside Grantham on what looked like someones [sic] estate. Well after surviving Ops. the [sic] certainly made every attempt to get me there, what with live amunition [sic] and blowing up the ground you stood on, sure was great to get back to the peace and quiet of the R.A.F. Soon after that I obtained my Class B release.
[underlined] Peter Green 178 [/underlined]

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Citation

Peter Green, “Peter Green's Memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 24, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/23383.

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